We stood every time he touched the ball. We stood with our breath held, our hearts racing, our mobile phones raised. We stood waiting to see history, waiting for a much-needed feel-good moment, waiting for Stephen Curry to do what we all knew he was going to do.
And it took less than five minutes for him to deliver.
On a night in which scary news seemed to dominate as more and more NBA players entered COVID-19 protocols, Curry came into Madison Square Garden and gave us something to cheer about.
Curry officially became the NBA’s reigning three-point king when he broke Ray Allen’s record of 2,973 career threes by hitting two of them in the first 4:27 of what ended up being a 105-96 Golden State win over the Knicks. The record-breaking shot came when he buried a catch-and-shoot pass from Andrew Wiggins over Knicks guard Alec Burks.
Golden State called a timeout and play stopped for nearly four minutes. Curry had tears as he received a standing ovation from Garden crowd. After hugging his teammates, coach and previous record holders Allen and Reggie Miller, Curry nodded at the Garden crowd and celebrated with his usual gesture of tapping his chest twice and pointing to the sky.
"It was a special atmosphere," Curry said. "The fans here embraced the moment and let me get lost in it. It was a special moment that I will remember for the rest of my life."
Everyone, it seems, wanted to see history in the making. Ticket prices for the game quadrupled on the secondary market after Curry fell two three-pointers short of setting the record in Indianapolis Monday night. Curry had a number of family and friends sitting near the court, including his father, Dell Curry, who usually would be traveling with the Charlotte Hornets as part of their broadcasting team.
Curry didn’t need to break his record at the Garden to cement his place in history, to secure his spot as the best three-point shooter in the history of the game. Yet, in so many ways it only seemed right that he would join a group of NBA greats who have picked this place to have some of their biggest career moments.
"It’s the mecca. This is the spot," Golden State coach Steve Kerr said when asked before the game if it meant something for Curry to do it at the Garden. "You ask every player in the NBA their favorite arena, I would guess the majority of them would say the Garden. I know it’s mine. It’s my favorite atmosphere in the league. There’s a ton of history here and it’s New York. It would be great if it could happen tonight."
There’s something about playing at Madison Square Garden that brings out the very best in the very best.
Who can forget the way Michael Jordan scored 55 points here on March 28, 1995, in just his fifth game back from retirement? Or Kobe Bryant’s 61-point performance on Feb. 2, 2009, that broke Bernard King’s 25-year-old Garden scoring record of 60 points. Or the way Miller, who was working Tuesday night’s game for TNT, scored eight points in 8.9 seconds in Game 1 of their 1995 playoff series?
Of them all, Curry is the least likely superstar. Who, after all, would expect a 6-2 player who had to scramble to get a Division I scholarship, to basically change the trajectory of the game?
While Curry did not invent the three-point shot, he took it to a whole different level. He has made nine or more three-pointers 38 times his career. Allen played 1,300 career games. Tuesday night’s game was just the 789th of Curry’s career.
What’s more, Curry set the record while having another MVP-caliber year. At 33, he is putting together one of the best seasons of his career and as a result resurgent Golden State is at the top of the Western Conference as it awaits the return of Klay Thompson.
Even the man who had his record broken Monday can’t help but be in awe of what Curry is doing.
"He’s on his own level, one he made for himself," Allen told NBA.com.
On Tuesday night, mobile phones in hand, we got to share in that level for a brief, well-needed moment.
DIALING LONG DISTANCE
Top five all-time three-point leaders:
1. Steph Curry 2,977
2. Ray Allen 2,973
3. Reggie Miller 2,560
4. James Harden 2,509
5. Kyle Korver 2,450